When he announced the move in Commons last month he had acid rebuttals for Opposition critics lashed out angrily at its attacks, saying “Get some guts…”
Key said they would be helping an Australia contingent also involved in preparing Iraqi soldiers to combat Islamic State fighters. But he did not rule out that NZ personnel could help providing intelligence for air strikes by the US, UK and Oz fighters. However, he said if troops were deployed mainly to provide training to local soldiers on the ground, and would not be engaged in battle.
“As I’ve made quite clear to people, they would be behind the wire, so I don’t think realistically most people would define that as war.”
Australia has 600 troops in the region, with another 300 more being deployed when the Kiwis move in. Probably they will be based in Taji, about 30km north of Baghdad.
The Prime Minister said New Zealand did not have a “realistic option of doing nothing” in the fight against ISIS, and he believed he had the public on his side.
“In the past, New Zealand has made significant contributions in the area of training or other activities which I don’t think you would see as war,” he said yesterday.
A national poll on the decision showed 48% favoured the decision, 42% were against it.
— Source :NZME; News Service; NZ Herald
Photo credit: New Zealand Defence Force / cc